Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Apple Development

When it comes to software development, I am absolutely an omnivore. I embrace any platform, computing languages and frameworks. I use them to develop my pet projects to form my basis of evaluating the technology.

However, I had never touched any Apple technology until last month when my wife twisted my arm to buy an iPhone 4.  Not because I dislike Apple’s philosophy and its snobbish ways, but because it was so irrelevant for me. But after I bought the iPhone 4 I got the urge of developing on the iOS and the iPhone so that my $1000+ investment on the iPhone was not a total waste.

So I happily registered to be an Apple Developer. Then I needed to get the SDK, an iOS simulator and and IDE. Xcode 4 was about the only tool available. When I logged in and ready to download Xcode 4, I was told:

Hi Romen,

You must be an iOS or Mac Developer Program member to download Xcode 4 or you can purchase Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store.

The membership costs $99 a year. This is not an option for I just want to try it out. The Xcode 4 costs $4.99 from the AppStore – hmm, not bad though the customer review was not very flattering… Then I realised that Xcode can only run on Mac OS X, which means I would have to fork out another $1000+ to buy an Apple computer just for using Xcode. I don’t mind an Apple computer, but there is no justification for its doubled price comparing to other brands with gross margin at 7 times of others. I do have an Mac OS X virtual machine image on VMWare, but it was too slow just to run itself, let alone Xcode. This reminds me of the early 1990s when you had to pay left and right just to learn a computing language, which was especially touch for students like me.

Also, once you finish developing your app, you’d have to go through Apple Store to sell them and get exploited by Apple again. Apple does not do a good job to keep a high quality of what they sell anyway – we only had the iPhone 4 for 3 weeks and already experienced buggy apps – buttons on the default SMS app and Facebook app were greyed out when they shouldn’t be and can only be fixed by bouncing the software or rebooting the phone (by the way, I do not see any rationale in Apple’s decision of not letting the user exit each app.)

The barrier to entry seems too high for a private user. I am used to the open source environments of many innovative technologies (led by Java perhaps). For me personally to buy into the Apple’s closed-door philosophy is just too much. So I have to ditch Apple technology as I always have.

There is plenty to explore in the Android domain.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Must-Haves On A New ₳₱₱£€ iPhone 4

The whole ₳₱₱£€ experience from start to end, from developer to user, from manufacturer to partner is just a big money grabbing exercise by Apple at every step involved. ₳₱₱£€ not only asks you to pay left and right but also restricts on what you can do and how you do things. To get back some sanity when using the new iPhone 4, here are some things that have to be done:

  1. Jailbreak it – for iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3.3 (8J2) here is a good starter.
  2. Change root password – after Jailbreaking, the phone’s (running BSD Unix) root password is automatically set to ‘alpine’. This must be changed. Note that the MobileTerminal app does not work on iOS 3 and 4 at the time of this post. So to do this, it is better to install OpenSSH and use a client such as PuTTY to connect to the iPhone with root login and use the passwd Unix command to change the root password.
  3. Ditch iTune – iTune forces you to sync apps between iPhone and the computer. This is not only waste of time and the computer disk space, but also creates problems when there are multiple computers. CopyTrans is a good solution to this.
  4. Get a decent GPS app – the default map application assumes that the phone is connected to the internet all the time, which can be extremely costly with many carriers and impractical in many countries. So there is a need to have a GPS app that can store map files on the iPhone locally. xGPS seems to fit the bill, although it cannot be used fully offline (like TomTom or Nokia Maps) – you’ll still need to be connected to Google when searching for addresses and working out routes.

As I am totally new to any ₳₱₱£€ product, any free apps suggestions are welcome.